Indianola Nebraska

The Best Little City Out West

Archaeology at the POW Camp

In December of 2011 I received an email from Allison Young a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in anthropology. Her master’s thesis focuses on “conflict archaeology,” the study of battlefields and fortifications and in Allison’s case, prisoner-of-war camps. After 6 months of emailing back and forth I was able to help her set up for a study of the Indianola German Prisoner of War Camp located 1 mile north of Indianola. It is about the only camp that is still intact and not farmed over or destroyed. The camp was built in 1943 on 250 acres; 194 frame and masonry buildings were designed to hold and service 3,000 prioners. Jim Waddell who owns the camp, and Andy O’Dea whose property was part of the camp gave them permission to look on their property. The city of Indianola let them use the showers at the swimming pool. The Indianola Historical Society provided porta potties for them. Jim Waddell was kind enough to open his building for them to use for sleeping, electricity for there equipment and to use his water. Most slept outside in tents. There were 11 students and 2 professors, Peter Bleed and Doug Scott, along with Allison. From June 17 to the 23 the group along with metal detectors, shovels and gps equipment began there endeavor. The pictures below were taken while they were there and I’ve added some pictures of the Indianola camp from the book “Love Thine Enimies” and pictues of the artwork that prisoners painted on the wall of their barracks. These paintings are on display at the Museum of the High Plains in McCook.

    Click on the Historical Society Page to see more info and pictures.

from "Love Thine Enemies"


“A BIRD’S EYE VIEW of the stockade area, Pow Camp Indianola. While there is not a single living tree in sight, we are looking at a substantial forest in the form of fence posts, utility poles and building lunber amounting to a self contained, if temporary, town.”

Camping at the camp



From "Love Thine Enemies" -Indianola

Allison Young

After a long days work

Digging for artifacts


Doug Scott on the left


From "Love Thine Enemies" - Indianola POWs out to the fields

Allison GPS mapping

Learning about the camp

Photographing the site



Allison and me at the end of the week.

The whole group with Jim Waddell back center

Peter Bleed, Allison Young, Bill Baumbach, Doug Scott

Below is some of the artwork that the German prioners painted on the walls of their barrecks. The majority of these prisoners were Germans, who were captured while serving in Africa. I have read stories how the people that witnessed the prisoners being unloaded and being marched up main street of Indianola, saying they looked like tired young boys and old men.






Interesting note is that The POW Camps in Nebraska during World War II included:
•Alma, Harlan County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Arapahoe, NE
•Atlanta (Camp), Atlanta, Phelps County, NE (base camp)
•Bayard, Morrill County, NE (branch camp under Scottsbluff, NE)
•Benkelman, Dundy County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Bertrand, Phelps County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Bridgeport, Morrill County, NE (branch camp under Scottsbluff, NE)
•Cornhusker, Hall County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE), now Cornhusker State Wildlife Management Area
•Crook (Fort George), Bellevue, Sarpy County, NE (base camp), now Offutt Air Force Base
•Elwood, Gosper County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Fisher’s Farm, Sarpy County, NE (branch camp under Algona, IA)
•Franklin, Franklin County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Grand Island, Hall County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Hastings, Adams County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Hayes Center, Hayes County, NE (branch camp under Indianola, NE)
•Hebron, Thayer County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Indianola (Camp), Indianola, Red Willow County, NE (base camp)
•Kearney, Buffalo County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Lexington, Dawson County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•Lyman, Scotts Bluff County, NE (branch camp under Scottsbluff, NE)
•Mitchell, Scotts Bluff County, NE (branch camp under Scottsbluff, NE)
•Ogallala, Keith County, NE (branch camp under Indianola, NE)
•Palisade, Hayes and Hitchcock Counties, NE (branch camp under Indianola, NE)
•Robinson (Fort), Crawford, Dawes County, NE (base camp) (POWs originally buried here were transferred to Camp Butler National Cemetery in Springfield, IL)
•Scottsbluff (Camp), Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff County, NE (base camp)
•Sidney, Cheyenne County, NE (branch camp under Carson, CO, sometimes Scottsbluff, NE)
•Weeping Water, Cass County, NE (branch camp under Atlanta, NE)
•West Point, Cuming County, NE (branch camp under Clarinda, IA)

One Response to “Archaeology at the POW Camp”

  1. Nancy says:

    Hi my name is Nancy and I have a dear friend, Harold Martin who passed away last month. One of his prize possessions was a picture that was drawn by a German prisoner that was at the camp in your town in 1944. He grew up there or near there. I am not sure of the story behind the picture but with his death I have promised him I would keep his memory alive. I did so by writing a blog post about his picture. Below you will find a link to view the picture.

    http://wp.me/p2eEip-wh

    Imagine my surprise when I saw the photo’s that were painted on the walls of the camp. Could this be the same artist? We will probably never know.

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